Hey there! How are you? Me? Oh, I’m fine, just thinking about the giant rare snails that have been spotted in England and how touching them can land me a £5k fine. No biggie.
That’s right, it turns out that a development at RHS Wisley Gardens in Surrey has been put on hold because some giant snails were discovered. Although snails are harmless, quite chilled molluscs, this specific type of snail, a Roman snail, can’t be moved by non-professionals, even if they’re dead.
You’d think with them being so protected that Roman snails are rare, but according to experts at Snail World, “the Roman snail inhabits many parts of the centre, southeast, west, east, north, and south of Europe”. They’re all over the place!
Interestingly, unlike the snails that tend to hang out in our gardens, these slimy wanderers prefer to be on sites of chalk and limestone with wet and mild temperatures. They’re also not fans of direct sunlight. These snails can live up to 20 years and can grow to the size of a chicken’s egg, making them the largest land snail in Europe.
According to South Oxfordshire District Council, it’s not an offence to disturb the snails or even damage or destroy their breeding or resting places. However, to handle the snails, however briefly, you must hold a licence. If you handle these snails, even without harming them, you can land yourself a fine of up to £5,000 and/or even a prison sentence of six months, according to Network Rail.
While it’s unlikely that these giant snails will disrupt any upcoming building work that you do, it’s not impossible. Especially when you consider that at the development in Surrey, over 40 of them were found. If you do spot any, Network Rail advises seeking expert advice from an environmental specialist, use EcoReporter to log the sighting and try to gain a licence from Natural England to move them. Alternatively, hire somebody with a snail holding licence, I bet they can’t wait to see these travelling wonders.